Steve Wainwright is the Managing Director, EMEA at the eLearning company, Skillsoft.
Why do you support the HeForShe campaign? For example – do you have a daughter or have witnessed the benefits that diversity can bring to a workplace?
I have two daughters and previously worked in California which is extremely diverse in race, religion, sexual orientation etc. These experiences have helped show me how diverse teams, in terms of gender and ethnicity, are beneficial in all walks of life, including the workplace. It mirrors society today and is important to me.
I support the HeForShe campaign because bias – conscious or unconscious – exists in many organisations still today. It is a contributing factor to why there are fewer women in leadership or board level positions, and why the gender pay gap is as wide as it is. My personal and professional goal is to help eliminate this by making training tools available, so that we can play a part in establishing a workplace where everyone is afforded the same financial and leadership opportunities — regardless of gender.
Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?
As with all areas in life, the more voices that are raised, the more likely action will be taken. It’s an issue of equality and it’s important that people in a position of responsibility show leadership on this topic.
How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?
That’s exactly what it is – a conversation in equality. That means everyone is welcome and should all be encouraged to take part in it.
Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?
If we achieved equality there would be no need to set these organisations up. That’s why I believe it is so important to foster a culture of support and inclusion for people of all genders.
What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?
In my opinion, it is all about greater understanding and better training. At Skillsoft we are lucky to have a ‘top-down’ approach that filters from the CEO and management team right down the organisation. It means that we are all encouraged to get involved in the gender debate, as it is part of our company’s culture.
Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?
Throughout my career I have mentored men and women alike, and continue to do so, both inside and outside my organisation.
Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?
Traditionally, yes, women are more likely to settle. For instance, often when men are offered a job there will be a back and forth on pay, holiday and other benefits. Women tend to simply accept offers, because of absurd notions about being too pushy and outspoken.
That’s one of the reasons why Skillsoft has taken the pledge for parity and provides dedicated eLearning resources to help women progress in their careers and to help employees recognise and stamp out gender bias.